NATO Naval Task Group en route to escort duties off Soma­li coast

Mons, Bel­gium — Three NATO ships, part of the Stand­ing NATO Mar­itime Group 2 (SNMG2) – sep­a­rat­ed from the main SNMG2 group and are en route to the East African coast respond­ing to the UN Sec­re­tary General’s request for NATO to escort mer­chant ships car­ry­ing World Food Pro­gramme (WFP) car­go.

The three NATO ships, part of Oper­a­tion ALLIED PROVIDER, will begin escort duties and estab­lish a naval pres­ence in the area as a deter­rent to pira­cy upon arrival. The three Oper­a­tion Allied Provider ships are:

  • ITS Durand de la Penne (flag­ship, Italy)

  • HS Themis­tok­les (Greece)

  • HMS Cum­ber­land (Unit­ed King­dom)

Dur­ing the course of the oper­a­tion, WFP escort ships will pro­vide close pro­tec­tion while those NATO ships pro­vid­ing a deter­rent pres­ence will patrol var­i­ous routes most sus­cep­ti­ble to crim­i­nal acts against mer­chant ves­sels. NATO ships may use force pur­suant to the autho­rised Rules of Engage­ment and in com­pli­ance with rel­e­vant inter­na­tion­al and nation­al law.

After the North Atlantic Coun­cil (NAC) agreed to the UN Sec­re­tary General’s request, NATO mil­i­tary ele­ments imme­di­ate­ly began plan­ning to redi­rect assets of SNMG2, already under­way as part of an out of area deploy­ment to pro­mote prac­ti­cal mil­i­tary coop­er­a­tion with the coun­tries of the Istan­bul Coop­er­a­tion Ini­tia­tive (ICI), to the escort/deterrence task off the Soma­li coast.

NATO’s abil­i­ty to quick­ly react to the UN’s request for sup­port demon­strates NATO’s mil­i­tary flex­i­bil­i­ty to respond to real secu­ri­ty chal­lenges on the seas as well as on the land, and in the air,” said Gen­er­al John Crad­dock, Supreme Allied Com­man­der Europe. “It sig­ni­fies NATO’s con­tin­ued rel­e­vance and will­ing­ness to ‘step in’ and ‘step up’ to threats of all descrip­tions – in this case the per­sis­tent threat of pira­cy.”

The remain­ing four SNMG2 ships – FGS Karl­sruhe (Ger­many), FGS Rhön (Ger­many), TCG Goko­va (Turkey), and USS The Sul­li­vans (USA) – will con­tin­ue on the out-of-area deploy­ment to ICI nations, notable for being the first time a NATO-flagged force deploys to the Gulf.